Sunday Scribblings: The Teacher Mask

The topic for Sunday Scribblings this week is Masks. You can find the site here.

Each day of teaching is truly an adventure. I think that is why I enjoy it each and every day. I can spend hours preparing lessons, organizing the day, and thinking all will go well, but somehow things don’t always go as planned.

That is why I wear my Teacher Mask.

Scene #1: The students enter the classroom at the beginning of the day. I am ready to enrich their minds with new knowledge. We are disrupted by a puppy that somehow got into the building and took up residence in our classroom. Of course, the puppy hadn’t gone to the bathroom outside either!
Put on Teacher Mask. “Yes, this soon will pass. They will get back on task soon.”

Scent #2: All the handouts for the day are next to the overhead. This teacher is ready to introduce a new form of poetry. A student takes her chair off the table and hits the coffee mug. All the papers, overheads, and handouts are soaked with a nice new blend of coffee.
Put on Teacher Mask. “We can move to plan B… but what is plan B?”

Scene #3: The day begins with students filing in quietly getting ready for the day. All of a sudden it happens. It begins with loud crying in the room, the sound of footsteps in the hall, and girls rushing to the rescue. Yes, once again C and W had a disagreement. C began crying and rushed down the hall. Friends moved in to comfort her. W came back to my class and covered head with hood. Ah, young love.
Put on Teacher Mask. “Do I introduce new parts of speech today or begin a support group?”

Scene #4: One night this teachers' dogs had a run-in with a skunk. In the middle of the night we were looking for tomato juice, googling skunk smell removal recipes online, and melting down. The smell was horrible. Unfortunately, after the skunk odor is around you get used to it. Did I notice my clothes and school bag had been touched by my dogs? Should I have known that the smell would permeate everything I owned? I forgot. When I entered the school people let me know immediately that I reeked of skunk. The students’ eyes were watering, some had headaches, and one sweet girl actually begged me to stay in one corner of the room. Febreeze just didn’t work.
Put on Teacher Mask. Run to phone and call JEJ and beg him to bring any clothes that don’t smell of skunk. Now… what was the lesson today?

Yes, my Teacher Mask always looks the same. I work hard at trying to be level headed each day with the highs and lows of middle school teaching. I had a student tell me recently that he could see through my mask. “ I can tell that smile is really saying ‘I am really upset, but just trying to smile.’” How perceptive that student was. I guess sometimes my Teacher Mask gets a few cracks in it.


  1. The skunk story made me laugh. Masks come in handy sometimes, especially gas masks!

  2. I can't believe any one will write a better Sunday Scribbling than this one. What a great piece of writing. I love the repeated image of the smiling teacher beside the little disasters and the need to keep that teacher mask on.

    As MarmiteToasty would say:


  3. Oh, that was lovely. Probably one of the toughest jobs of all being a teacher- and now I am certain of it!
    Thanks for sharing your stories with us today!

  4. IEG -

    How "from the heart" your post was!

    I enjoyed it -- and bless you for being a teacher. The world needs a whole lot more teachers -- and a helluva lot less politicians. :)

  5. Michelle19.5.07

    Ahh my first week doing and reading Sunday Scribblings and I love your post. I have been a teacher for a bit too and that teacher "I am in control and can handle all of this" mask is a necessary and often, as you have shown us hysterical one. Thing is...the kids can see right through it.

  6. This was so well written, entertaining and thoughtful. I kept thinking you'll probably appreciate taking off your 'teacher' mask for awhile this summer. I was an elem Montessori aide for three years so I know you're a wise and wonderful teacher. Thanks for sharing.
    Keep looking up!

  7. That was a fantastic sunday scribbling! I can relate to some extent. Although I've not taught middle school, I've had my share of the 6 and under crowd at daycares and schools. The puppy one has happened to me. So has the paint on the walls, student grape juice sprayed from juice box on white blouse other student wore for picture day, standing in the sink to clean shoes!, puking on the printing homework, etc etc etc....

  8. Thanks Sian- I didn' think about a gas mask. It would have helped!
    RP- could you tell I also have a hidden talent for drawing and coloring? LOL Thanks for the brill comments.
    to the rest of you: I am glad you liked it and thanks for the kind words about the teaching profession. And yes Noni- the teacher mask can come off for awhile. :)

  9. Being a teacher, I fully relate to it. I too feel that once a teacher, always a teacher. That mask never ciomes off. Teaching and learning go hand in hand too.

  10. Ah, the joys of teaching, and the necessities of masks. You know, I'm kind of glad the kids can see through them sometimes. Helps them understand us and connect a little better =)

  11. First, thank you for visiting my blog!

    I am already enjoying yours - can't wait to make that watermelon salad next weekend.

    I am a teacher too. Kindergarten. The masks we wear as the children come through the door can make or break their day, huh?!

  12. gautami-you are so right. Teaching and learning do go hand in hand.
    rondi- good to hear from you... i hope your year-end will go smoothly.
    karen-it is nice to continue to meet other teachers in blog land. Enjoy the salad!

  13. Oh, jeez . . . now I smell skunk even though there isn't one for miles.

    I'm going to send this to my sister who has been teaching middle school since 1971. I frequently threaten to commit her if she doesn't retire. :-)

  14. Teachers definitely have to be "on" at all times, don't they, that smiling, in charge mask in place every minute.

    Your classroom sounds like a fun and busy place :)

    And, oh yes, the skunk story brought back a few olfactory memories!

  15. I was a teacher for a while - so can really relate. I like the recurring smiley face!

  16. I so know this world. I often persuade myself that it's History that they learn from me. But more likely, it's grace under fire that I bring to the table. Great post!

  17. A very fun post. Let me say that, when I was a student, I appreciated teachers' masks of good cheer. As a parent now of elementary school kids, I appreciate them even more. Bravo to you, your profession and your masks.

  18. Great post! I admire you for being a teacher.

  19. janie:isn't is amazing once you hear skunk you can smell them and relate to some story about skunks?
    becca: never a dull moment at school. actually today was pretty calm!
    crafty: once I got the writing idea... i knew i had to do the picture. it is that type of picture students draw of their teacher.
    stacy: thanks... and nice to hear from another teacher.
    pa: i agree with you about the good cheer. many of students carry a heavy burden when they walk into the door each day. they don't need to see crabby face.
    anita: thanks to you also.
    to all of you... thanks for dropping in.


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